“How did Abraham manage to know God, even though he never had the Bible? The divine communication is everywhere evident in creation… and Abraham knew how to see.
Abraham knew God by the relationship called ‘faith’. Faith is the other side of the coin of revelation; faith is revelation received and responded to. An act of faith is a response to a disclosure. Faith is meant to be an ongoing dialogue of divine disclosure and human response, growing ever deeper, just like any love affair.
In contrast many have a faith that is a reaching out and grasping for God, but is not really a response to God’s revelation. Such people are responding to their own needs, fears or desires – to anything but God’s self revelation – and this can lead to a distorted understanding of God. When faith is not based on God’s personal disclosure, it generates a religion that is mostly wishful thinking, projection and legalism, since such religion is for the most part a product of people’s own creation, their own needs and their own desires, projected onto God.”
from Richard Rohr – ‘a perspective of Luke’s gospel’
Thank you, Father Rohr. So then… how do I know God? And when it comes down to it, what do I really know (because it is the ‘knowing’ that is the essence of faith)? Especially in our current situation, as Christians with serious sickness in the family the issue of ‘faith’ is the ‘blue touch paper’! How many times have you heard those questions over the years in situations needing divine healing… ‘where is your faith?’ ‘what do you have faith for?’ or ‘they just didn’t have enough faith’ (owch!)? It’s a minefield! We have seen so much confusion and discouragement – and yes, pretence. Its what Richard Rohr says so well – ‘people projecting their own needs and desires onto God’ and calling it ‘faith’, when perhaps it could as well be denial or fear, as we simply try to escape from the pain of life and death – just as everyone else does.
To really have faith I can step out on I need God’s revelation to me; I need to see and hear and know what He has said. It has to come alive, a conviction to my heart, a divine connection, the revelation He alone can bring. Stories of long ago and words on the page by themselves don’t do it. We are in danger of getting trapped in religion when we follow yesterday’s truths! But we are called to seek the living Word, the Lord Himself, with all our hearts, so that we will find Him… and He definitely wants us to find Him, to love Him, to be in relationship with Him – that is what prayer is about. I once heard Mike Bickle of the International Houses of Prayer (IHoP) movement share his personal revelation on prayer: “God wants me to go into a room and shut the door and ask Him what He wants me to pray and then pray it! And not eat!” and “He opens His heart to me, then He opens my heart, then He opens His hand… and He has made it this way because He so badly wants relationship with us.”
So the conclusion I have reached is that in my relationship with the Lord, Who I have come to know as my mother, my father, my redeemer, my lover, my comforter and faithful friend -the revelation I have received that is particular to me is the source of my faith: it is what I know. And looking around, I see others who have different revelation and therefore faith for different things… AND THAT’S OK! There are measures of faith, gifts of faith, levels of faith, “and we being many are one Body and members of it” with different functions and gifts, and we all have a part to play.
Perhaps my part is to take the low road, to walk through this valley and plumb the depths of pain – and grace. My faith has been tested in this fire and I have found Him faithful here. So while others have faith for glorious supernatural breakthroughs or to model warfare praise or worship and intimacy, citywide church or apostolic training centres, or help many to restore the foundations, or prayerwalk the nations… While many are taking it to the streets, serving the community, running missions, sharing the love, carrying the gospel to the unreached, going into politics – so many of us expressing our faith in multi-coloured ways – my family can glorify Jesus buried deep in the heart of the nation as we share in His sufferings and run the race marked out for us with perseverance, embracing loss and living the mercy cry for the next generation.
If I have a ‘bee in my bonnet’ it is so tempting to try to convince everyone else that mine is the best way to do things… We have had control and fear of people being ‘unaccountable’ and ‘going off the rails’ ruling things for quite a while! To get the job done we need a whole hive of bees, doing their pollinating, doing their dance, making the honey! 🙂 This is the time for many voices to rise, many stories to be told of the manifold grace of God. Each is a strand of the DNA of the kingdom; none of us has the whole picture on our own.
So no more finger pointing, but let grace, wisdom and discernment help us to ‘grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ. from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work’ (Eph 4v15-16). And may faith and love, the inseperable twins, grow up among us together.
‘There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God’ (Ps 46v4)